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Again: the same inference is forced upon us by the fact that God complains of sinners for rejecting His overtures of mercy: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded" (Prov. 1:24). "But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in His Spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. Therefore, it is come to pass; that as he cried and they would not hear: so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 7:11-13). "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son. And sent forth his servant to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and treated them spitefully, and slew them" (Matt. 22:2-6). "And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife; and therefore I cannot come" (Luke 14:17-20). "And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40). "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51). "And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, ad answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee" (Acts 24:25).
I now proceed to answer objections.
1. Objection to the fact of atonement. It is said, that the doctrine of atonement represents God as unmerciful. To this I answer,
(1.) This objection supposes that the atonement was demanded to satisfy retributive instead of public justice.
(3.) The atonement is infinitely the most illustrious exhibition of mercy ever made in the universe. The mere pardon of sin, as an act of sovereign mercy, could not have been compared, had it been possible, with the merciful disposition displayed in the atonement itself.
2. It is objected that the atonement is unnecessary.
The testimony of the world and of the consciences of all men are against this objection. This is universally attested by their expiatory sacrifices. These, as has been said, have been offered by nearly every nation of whose religious history we have any reliable account. This shows that human beings are universally conscious of being sinners, and under the government of a sin-hating God; that their intelligence demands either the punishment of sinners, or that a substitute should be offered to public justice; that they all have the idea that substitution is conceivable, and hence they offer their sacrifices as expiatory. A heathen philosopher can answer this objection, and rebuke the folly of him who makes it.